Recently, the Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF) echoed the importance of economic Diplomacy with regard to CEPC’s future prospects and noted that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was playing an important role in channelizing the notion of economic diplomacy in policy-making arenas. During an interaction, Forum Secretary General was of the view that the CPEC has the potential to become a breeding ground for Pakistan’s venture of economic diplomacy not only through special economic zones but also by enhancing regional connectivity in a multifarious manner. According to the scholarly research of the forum, it is a widely accepted fact that the economy is central to foreign policy and curated in accordance with it. It has become indispensable to ensure economic amplification through diplomatic means to build and maintain regional influence while the combination of economic and foreign policies had always proved to be an effective tool for ensuring the geostrategic and economic interests of the nations.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has become the main pillar for bilateral trade and cooperation between the two neighbors and longstanding allies, while at the same time it equally offers unparalleled opportunities for trade, investments, and broader connectivity to other nations in the region. In fact, the CPEC has laid the foundation for sustainable indigenous economic growth in Pakistan through the creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), energy production, construction of an extensive Communication network along with connectivity of local, regional, and global markets through land and Sea routes. It is a multidimensional project with unlimited prospects for future cooperation between the regional states in multiple domains ranging from bilateral trade and tourism to energy cooperation and transcontinental trade between landlocked Afghanistan, CARs, and China with the Middle East nations, Africa, and the rest of the world.
The CPEC has achieved some early harvest including the construction of road infrastructure, the establishment of SEZs, and the completion of energy projects however most of its fruit still needs to be comprehended by the partnering nations. As the Peoples’ Republic of China is a developed nation and is currently in the process of relocating its industry to other countries while Pakistan and a few ASEAN nations could be potential beneficiaries of this relocation therefore the government of Pakistan should make concerted efforts to grasp maximum benefit from this opportunity. Meanwhile, the current Afghan government believes in regional connectivity and cooperation and intends to revive the stalled multilateral regional projects including Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India gas pipeline project (TAPI), along with the Central Asia-South Asia Electricity supply project CASA-1000 and initial negotiations are underway in this regard.
In the present-day world, geo-economics shapes geopolitics, as Europe and America have fully realized the benefits of development and technology while Asian and African economies are currently taking momentum to get through the process of industrialization and development. Pakistan, due to its important geostrategic location coupled with state-of-the-art CPEC infrastructure offers a unique opportunity to its neighboring countries including China, Afghanistan, Iran, and Central Asian Nations to boost their trade with the rest of the world through Pakistani land and sea routes.
Therefore, Pakistan must ramp up its economic diplomacy, and strike transit trade and transshipment deals with regional nations so that economic activity takes place and the real prospects of CPEC could be visualized in the coming days.